Sunday, 30 March 2008


One of my favourite scenes in Lord of the Rings: Return of the King has the four hobbits drinking a pint at The Green Dragon as they listen to Ted Arenas's blusters. They share a look of mutual understanding and a rather sad smile. They saved Middle Earth from Sauron's Chaos and Darkness but they cannot tell anyone back home, because no one would understand. They feel, as do war veterans and survivors of all kinds, different, strange and awfully alone. Life and people in The Shire did not change at all, but they did. What had always been "normal" for them isn't normal any more.

One of the last times we were in Spain we felt, for the first time, something which, I think, might be quite common among the expat community. Everything looked strange, unfamiliar. We had a hard time understanding what people was doing. We felt almost “stranger”. Why did everyone talk so loud? What were they doing? How could they play such loud music everywhere? All of them are things we did not really realize when we were living there. Because they were “normal” then. But they aren't any more.


After two or three days the feeling was gone, all we needed was a little readjustment. But it made me realize how dependent we are on our references, on our frames, and how little we know about this dependency.

What is considered “normal” is so fragile that changes happening without stop go unnoticed. Our frames evolve continuously and we don't realize they changing. That's why such words like "normal", "common sense", "logic", "it goes without saying" might be dangerous, as well as arguments that base on them. Because my frames are not necessarily the same as yours, maybe not even close. And we would better not refer to a supposedly common frame which, for practical effects, doesn't need to exist.


To finish, a bit of music. The suite "Estaciones Porteñas", written by Argentinian composer Ástor Piazzolla, consists of four parts, one for each one of the seasons, as kind of a tango counterpart to Vivaldi's "Four Seasons". Like them, each of the tangos evokes the corresponding season. "Verano Porteño" (summer) is a lively tango, and it seems to me as vibrant as a snow storm, while "Invierno Porteño" (winter) has a slow and sad melody that makes me think of the never ending hours of a hot sunny afternoon. Now, "porteño" refers to the city of Buenos Aires. Should I blame my frames because I think the titles and the music do not match? Or is it a wink from Piazzolla's South to northern hemisphere's seasons?

But I am going to stop talking now, to let El Gran Ástor's bandoneón speak.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

The green thumb

I have a confession to make. For some years now I belong to a dormant cell of the ADL (Anti-Desertification League). Vegetation retreats, and more soon than late, the Sahara is going to be knocking on our doors. And we must fight.

There are many approaches to the problem. Some think the last hope of Southern and Eastern Spain are cork oaks. Most of the revenues from cork production come from wine corks. Ergo, if we want to stop the Sahara, let's drink lots of wine! But only if it uses real cork.

Another school of thought says that fighting from the rearguard is needed, by organising kind of summer camps for Mediterranean species in places with considerable rainfall. Some time ago I had a revelation as I was eating an orange and I joined this silent fight. We sowed some of the seeds and, to our surprise, four tiny little trees sprouted. Today, six years after, the orange trees are in the middle of that difficult teen age but they give us a little Mediterranean flair from the windowsill.

Plantetes02 Plantetes03

Our second guest has been a stone pine that came to Austria with us as a little pine nut, who was given the gift of life by the light of our fridge (well... I could say it was because of the cold stratification process, but who am I kidding?, we must clean more often!). After some childhood struggles, it seems to be doing all right, in spite of our faithless family.

Plantetes05 Plantetes04

As I was planting some daffodils that we adopted at the market, I spent all the morning organising activities for our little trees, like a good camp monitor. I will tell you about my Austrian camp's succulent section some other day...


Some day, as we cannot refer to our little trees as "little" any more, we will bring them back to the front, because every help is more than welcome in this uneven fight.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Lights and Shadows

Lights and Shadows

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Looking at the pointing finger

"It is said that when someone points to something only dummies look at the pointing finger. But sometimes, to look at the pointing finger allows us seeing the unexpected or simply discovering the ordinary under new points of view.

Toni Palau (Tarragona, 1975) started to look at the pointing finger some years ago in Austria. Through a camera lens."


Today Mateo, from DIVINOTINTO, the one and only Spanish bodega in Salzburg, published my photo exhibition online. You may visit it here, and also my flickr album here. And, beginning on March 25th, you may visit it on site, along with good wine and conversation.

I hope you like it! :)

Sunday, 9 March 2008


Sausages are important stuff here in Central Europe. Not only because they are undoubtedly on the top spots of people diet, but also because the German word for it, Wurst, has surprising meaning changes, which made it today's favourite word.

Expression #1 is Jetzt geht's um die Wurst!, meaning that it gets really serious now, that it is neck or nothing, now for it! The sausage is here the heart of the matter, what really counts.

Expression #2 is Es ist mir Wurst!, which translates as "I don't care", "It's all the same to me". We seem to have lost all of our interest in sausages now!

It's funny how close languages are, when you look at them from afar. Jetzt geht's um die Wurst! could loosely translate in Spanish as "Echar toda la carne en el asador" (lit. "to put all the meat to grill"). Meat is again something serious. And Es ist mir Wurst would be "Me importa un pimiento" (lit. "it means a pepper to me"). Apparently, in Spain we don't care about peppers, they don't care about sausages in Austria.

To-may-to, to-mah-to, ...

Friday, 7 March 2008

Got a little crazy today...

...and I did this:

Yes, I got myself another camera! :) The price was really a hit (€99) and I just could not resist.

Soon after we got EduDigis (our DSLR), my good old point-and-shoot PowerShot A60 passed away, and I missed a small camera to carry around ever since. Then my parents got me Nikonsita (Coolpix S200), and even though it is a great camera, it turned out it is too thin (!!) and I never really got used to it being so lightweight, especially after having had EduDigis in my hands.

My dear old A60... Sniff...

I saw yesterday this incredible offer, read some reviews on the internet and I just got myself what I hope will be an honourable successor of my very much missed A60.

Am I a little crazy? Do we really need 3 cameras? ;)